The warm weather in Iowa during the summer months makes this state a mecca for outdoor adventures and water sports. When you stay at one of numerous Iowa vacation rentals for your summer getaway, you can enjoy convenient access to state parks and lakes with lush greenery and cool waters, as well as historic attractions in cities such as Decorah and Pella. Plan your next Iowa summer vacation with these 10 cities in mind.

1. Spirit Lake

Spirit
Source: Flickr / Mark Evans

Get wet and wild during your summer vacation when heading to Pike’s Point State Park in Spirit Lake. This Iowa city is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts with opportunities to tour the Kettleson Hogsback Wildlife Area, or get in 18 holes at the Okoboji View Golf Course. During the summer months, this adventurous town hosts flea markets on the weekends in the downtown area. Enjoy the cool breezes in the evening by winding down on a boat tour on the Queen II Excursion Boat.

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2. Farmington

Farmington

Find big attractions in this small Iowa city when making Farmington your vacation destination. This city celebrates the Farmington Strawberry Festival each June that includes carnival rides, games, free produce and ice cream, as well as petting zoos, car shows, and talent shows. Explore the scenery of this small town when booking a horseback riding excursion with the River Valley Horse Camp, and then get in a historical lesson with a tour of the nearby Battle of Athens State Historic Site.

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3. Decorah

Decorah
Source: Flickr / Denise Krebs

See stunning waterfalls and blooming flowers when making your way through Dunning Springs Park in Decorah during the summer months. This quiet Iowa city offers plenty of educational opportunities for the entire family with interactive exhibits and tours of the Vesterhein Norwegian-American Museum. Time your summer getaway for Memorial Day weekend or the Fourth of July to see the citywide parades and fireworks festivals.

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4. Dubuque

Dubuque

The Mississippi River is waiting for your family to host a summer fishing excursion or float trip. Dubuque offers lush greenery and breathtaking views when touring the Dubuque Arboretum and Botanical Gardens or walking the trails of Jackson Park. Cool off from the summer sun with a tour of the Mathias Ham House and log cabin, or stop in at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium to show the kids the exotic underwater creatures.

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5. Ames

Ames
Source: Flickr / Oleg.

Soak in the culture of this Iowa city with a vacation rental that puts you in close proximity to the Brunnier Art Museum and the Octagon Center for the Arts. The warm Iowa temperatures make Ames the perfect vacation destination for enjoying some wine on the patio of the Prairie Moon Winery and Vineyards, or enjoying some homemade brews at Alluvial Brewing Company. When you want to beat the heat, treat your children to a day at the Furman Aquatic Center to see underwater creatures.

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6. Cedar Rapids

Cedar

Head to eastern Iowa for a thrilling summer vacation in a city that is home to the Paramount Theater, the Brucemore historical mansion, and the Indian Creek Nature Center. Summertime is the ideal time to visit Cedar Rapids, so you can participate in the Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival from late June through early July, or enjoy the tasty offerings at the Cedar Rapids BBQ Roundup in mid-June each year.

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7. Pella

Pella
Source: Flickr / Mark Hesseltine

Immerse yourself in the Dutch Heritage of Pella with a vacation rental in this small city that originated in the mid 1800s. Pella features more than 20 historical buildings for your family to explore and Dutch-inspired events such as the Tulip Time Festival in May. Enjoy the cool breeze that stems from the world’s tallest working windmill that is stationed in Pella, and then enjoy the summer sun with a round of golf at the Bos Landen Golf Club.

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8. Des Moines

Des Moines

Explore the history of this capitol city when touring the State Capital Building or stopping in at the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum during your summer vacation. During the summer, baseball is in season, so you can catch an afternoon game at Principal Park, and then head over to the Pappajohn Sculpture park to please the aspiring artists in your crew. The Blank Park Zoo is a must-see item for your vacation bucket list, too. Time your trip for early June and enjoy the Winefest Des Moines celebration.

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9. Arnolds Park

Arnolds
Source: Flickr / Martin Lewison

Amuse your family with a weeklong vacation in Arnolds Park, home to the Arnolds Park Amusement Park. This interactive amusement center features coasters for the thrill seekers and a kiddy area for the little ones. Make a splash when heading over to the Boji Splash Indoor Waterpark, or get out on the river with kayak or canoe rentals from Extreme Sports. Don’t miss out on the chance to see artifacts from rockstars while on vacation since you’re in close proximity to the Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hale of Fame Museum.

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10. Boone

Boone

If you’re looking for seclusion for your summer getaway, the cozy city of Boone is the ideal choice. Cool off from the summer heat with a dip in the creeks along Canyon Road, or head out for a hike at Ledges State Park or the Seven Oaks Recreation Center to see nature along the trails that lead to sandstone cliffs.

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